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Life-saving Liverpool charity Street Doctors receives national recognition

Rebecca Long, Clare Reeder, Hannah Doughty, Lesley Tregear Credit: Liverpool City Council

An initiative which teaches young people emergency first aid to save the lives of victims of violence has received national recognition.

StreetDoctors – set up in Liverpool and now a national charity – has won the John Hawkins award, presented by the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers.

The award recognises creative youth justice work by Youth Offending teams (YOTs) and was named in memory of John Hawkins, who was a founding member of the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers and its Treasurer.

StreetDoctors was established in 2008 after two medical students, who were teaching first aid to young people in a Liverpool Youth Offending Team scheme, were shocked that all those present had witnessed a stabbing.

They decided to teach young people essential emergency life-saving skills so they could act if they were present at the scene of a violent injury as it is vital that someone who is stabbed, shot or collapses receives immediate help before an ambulance arrives.

This led to the StreetDoctors’ team being set up with the help of Liverpool Youth Offending Team.

It is now a national charity with 16 teams and 280 medical volunteers who hold weekly sessions in 12 cities across the country. This year StreetDoctors is expected to work with 2500 young people.

StreetDoctors’ sessions tailor complicated information about first aid to make it relevant to young people at risk. Medical consequences of violence are discussed, in a pragmatic, no-nonsense way, countering a common belief among young people that there are ‘safe places to stab someone’.

Young people are treated as potential lifesavers – they are encouraged to think of themselves as responsible individuals who can make a positive difference and there are at least five known cases of young people acting in an emergency after attending a StreetDoctors’ session.

In making the award the judges said:

“The StreetDoctors project is highly innovative in that it is provides young people with practical skills and knowledge to help keep themselves safe and potentially save lives. It also engages with interesting non-justice sector partners.

“The panel were acutely aware of the high profile knife crime events recently and felt that this project can be central to a strategy to reduce the harm being done. This project already runs in other YOTs following the Liverpool origin and we have Liverpool YOT to thank for this."

– Judges

Rebecca Long, one of the StreetDoctors, said:

"In receiving the John Hawkins award StreetDoctors is incredibly pleased and proud to have the work of our volunteers acknowledged.

"They're all full time medical students or junior doctors and are passionate about working with vulnerable young people in their local communities across the UK to help them learn simple, but also life-saving, skills."

– Rebecca Long

John Hawkins’ son, Roddy, said:

"From the point of view of the Hawkins family, we are thrilled that the award continues each year and that dad's commitment to youth justice and to young people lives on. We've been humbled to hear of the fantastic, innovative work which is taking place across the country in different YOTs.

“The effectiveness of all these initiatives, and not simply in reducing re-offending rates, is a testament to the commitment and creativity of local organisers and to the value of placing faith and responsibility in the hands of young people.

"That many of these initiatives have been, or will be, taken up nationally surely deserves special recognition, and we hope that this award to the Liverpool YOT's StreetDoctors project will help to provide just that."

– Roddy Hawkins

Councillor Emily Spurrell, Mayoral lead for community safety, said:

“I want to extend my congratulations to Street Doctors and Liverpool Youth Offending Service for such an innovative project that is designed to improve outcomes for young people and their local communities.

“I know from speaking to staff that some young people who have been on the course have gone on to save lives and also to recognise the harm that violence can cause. I am pleased that Street Doctors have got the recognition they deserve and that this is now a national programme.”

– Councillor Emily Spurrell